Objective.

Sensitization to perennial aeroallergens is associated with asthma in industrialized countries with a Western lifestyle. Because silk products are commonly used in Chinese society, we were interested in examining the relation between sensitization to silk and asthma.

Design.

Cross-sectional study of 871 children in 503 families living in Anqing, a predominantly rural province of China.

Results.

After adjustment for age, gender, familial correlations, and sensitization to other aeroallergens, skin test reactivity to silk was an independent predictor of asthma (odds ratio = 2.6; 95% confidence interval = 1.2–5.7). This association became stronger after inclusion of the eosinophil count and history of parasitic diseases of the participants in the multivariate model (odds ratio = 3.6; 95% confidence interval = 1.4–8.9).

Conclusion.

Because sericulture is an important activity in China and other countries throughout the world, sensitization to silk may influence the pathogenesis and severity of asthma in people living in these nations.

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